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Who Couldn't Find Deidrick Johnson?

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By Colbert I. King
Saturday, February 16, 2008

"A custody order is essentially a bench warrant for a juvenile."

-- A spokeswoman for the D.C. Superior Court, Feb 12.

Deidrick Johnson is a 17-year-old Southeast Washington youth charged as an adult with assault with intent to kill in a Jan. 22 shooting of four students near Ballou High School. He's also charged as an adult in a drive-by shooting that injured five young people in Southeast Washington on Jan. 11.

Last year, one juvenile case was filed against him in the D.C. Superior Court's Family Court, according to a court source. He was charged with unlawful entry. Johnson, the source said, failed to appear at a court hearing scheduled for Feb. 13 last year, and the court issued a custody order. Johnson was arrested on Nov. 19.

Where was Deidrick Johnson from the day the custody order was issued until his arrest nine months later? Overseas in disguise, furtively navigating from hiding place to hiding place, eating and sleeping on the run?

Nah.

Johnson lives in the Barry Farm public housing complex in Southeast. He was seen daily on street corners in the neighborhood, according to Ronald L. Moten, co-founder of Peaceoholics, an anti-violence group. Moten, who was unaware of the custody order, told The Post he wondered why Johnson wasn't in school.

Everybody, it seems, saw Johnson, except those paid to find him -- the D.C. police, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and the court officers whose duty it is to find absconders.

So what if they failed? Consider what happened after his Nov. 19 arrest.

On Nov. 27, Johnson pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful entry and was sentenced to . . . (drum roll, please) . . . probation.

Yes, my precious ones: Johnson, in DYRS custody since April 2005, violates a custody order, gets arrested, pleads guilty to committing a crime, and gets what for his trouble? Freedom!

Within weeks of his release, he was back in police custody, charged with shooting nine young people.


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